Is Relocation in the Best Interest of the Child?
Often after a divorce, one parent or the other wants to relocate to another state – whether that parent is getting married, finds a new job or just wants to start a new life. Previously, if parents could not agree on relocation and the parties chose to enlist the assistance of the courts, the Baures standard would be applied in deciding whether it was appropriate for parent and child to relocate from the State of New Jersey. Under this standard “a parent with primary custody…must demonstrate only that there is a good-faith reason for an interstate move and that the relocation “will not be inimical to the child’s best interests.” Bisbing v. Bisbing III, N.J. Sup. Ct., August 8, 2017 citing Baures v. Lewis at 118. This standard was previously applied in connection to New Jersey statute 9:2-2 which states that a child cannot be removed from the State of New Jersey “without the consent of both parents, unless the court, upon cause shown, shall otherwise order.” N.J.S.A. 9:2-2 (emphasis added)
Recently, the New Jersey Supreme Court deviated from the Baures standard when looking at the aspect of “cause shown” and applied the best interests of the child standard. The best interest standard is used in all custody cases decided by New Jersey courts. This is a monumental change previous case law governing relocation. In Bisbing v. Bisbing III decided on August 8, 2017 the New Jersey Supreme Court stated, “In place of the Baures standard, court should conduct a best interests analysis to determine “cause” under N.J.S.A. 9:2-2 in all contested relocation disputes which the parents share legal custody.” Bisbing v. Bisbing III at para. D. The Court felt the best interest standard better comported with New Jersey Custody Statute 9:2-4 which states “that the rights of parents are to be equally respected in custody determinations and stated that custody arrangements must serve the best interests of the child.” Bisbing v. Bisbing III citing N.J.S.A. 9:2-4 at para. D. Practically speaking, use of the best interest standard in relocation cases will essentially lead to a custody hearing should one party want to relocate from the State of New Jersey.
Should you have a need to relocate with your child in the future, the law offices of Lyons & Associates is here to assist you. At Lyons & Associates, our child custody lawyers in New Jersey represent men and women throughout New Jersey who have unresolved family law matters, including relocation issues. We place a premium on personalized service and attention. For a private consultation, contact us online or call our offices at 908-575-9777.
Written By: ChrisAnnn Wright, Esq.